Great start to trout season

October is always a big deal to New Zealand’s freshwater anglers, as we wait in anticipation for the rivers to open after a long winter. To make up condition post spawning, the trout feed well at this time of year and, having not seen a fisherman for a few months, they are usually easier to entice.

The start of the season provides the best chance to net a trophy, and many of us spend weeks getting our gear together, stocking up the fly boxes and carefully watching river flows and weather patterns to make the most of the opening days. This year was no different – I’d tied up a good collection of my favourite flies, changed out my old lines and booked in my leave. All I needed now was for the weather to play its part.

The week prior to opening day, the Nelson/Tasman region experienced heavy rainfalls making a lot of larger rivers unfishable. Normally, this can overcrowd the tributaries and smaller rivers targeted early in the season. Somehow, I got lucky and ended up with a huge section of my favourite river all to myself. River levels were higher here than I’d seen before, and I knew that I’d need to adjust my tactics.

Fortunately, I had prepared by tying up a good collection of heavy nymphs to get the job done. It didn’t take long to notice the pattern of fish; gathering at the heads of pools then feeding in deeper water to escape the current.

It took some time to get my drifts right, but once figured out I was in for a day of fishing difficult to beat. I landed seven fish, five of over 5 lbs. A few would have been 10 lb fish if they’d lasted another month and built condition. The fly of the day was a large green stonefly pattern that the fish couldn’t seem to resist.

It truly was a start to the season that I’ll never forget, and really highlighted the amazing fisheries we have in our region.

The most memorable fish came late in the day. I snuck up on a nice one at the head of a run and had a sighter cast a couple of metres to its left. As soon as the fly hit the water, a huge shape emerged from nowhere and snaffled the fly. It was an 8 lb fish in good condition that went screaming downstream, trying its luck behind every branch and boulder it could find, before finally coming to the net. A likely contender for best fish of the season.

Our region boasts some of the best trout rivers in the country, providing a great alternative for those rough sea days and an opportunity to explore New Zealand’s beautiful terrain. If you aren’t taking part already, grab a licence and get yourself out there.

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